Billy Graham (wrestler): Wikis


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"Superstar" Billy Graham
Ring name(s) Wayne Coleman[1][2]
Billy Graham[1][2]
Billed height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)[1][2]
Billed weight 275 lb (125 kg)[1][2]
Born June 7, 1943 (1943-06-07) (age 66)[2]
Paradise Valley, Arizona[1]
Resides Paradise Valley, Arizona
Billed from Paradise Valley, Arizona
Trained by Stu Hart[1]
Debut 1969[2]
Retired 1987[2]

Eldridge Wayne Coleman[1][2] (born June 7, 1943) is an American former professional wrestler. He is best known under the ring name "Superstar" Billy Graham and for his tenures in the World Wide / World Wrestling Federation. During his time in the promotion, he became a one time WWWF World Heavyweight Champion.

Graham's popularity was based principally on the basis of his character, rather than his wrestling skills. His bodybuilder physique and flamboyant patter paved the way for wrestlers like Jesse Ventura, Hulk Hogan, Scott Steiner, and Triple H, who were all heavily influenced by Graham's example.[1][3] Graham called his twenty-two inch arms "pythons," and often recited self-aggrandizing poetry during his interviews, a technique inspired by Muhammad Ali. A typical example: "I'm the man of the hour, the man with the power, too sweet to be sour. The women's pet, the men's regret. What you see is what you get. And what you don't see is better yet."[4]


Early life

As a teenager, Coleman became a devout Christian and also won several bodybuilding titles.[1] He would also perform feats of strength so as to invite people to attend his evangelistic meetings.[1] Upon reaching adulthood, Coleman began playing professional football and joined the National Football League for three years, where he played for the Houston Oilers and the Oakland Raiders.[1] Graham's actual height was only 6'2" tall and his weight was 255 pounds.

Professional wrestling career



While being scouted by the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders, Graham was encouraged by Bob Roop to train withStu Hart for his Stampede Wrestling promotion.[1] After joining Hart instead of the Stampeders, Coleman trained under him before debuting in 1969. After wrestling briefly under his real name, Graham traveled back to America and joined the National Wrestling Alliance's San Francisco and changed his ring name to Billy Graham, as a tribute to the famous evangelist of the same name.[1] While wrestling in Championship Wrestling from Florida, the name doubled as both his ring name and also to make him the (kayfabe) youngest brother of the Graham Brothers (Eddie, Jerry, and Luke).[1]

In 1972, Graham's popularity rose significantly during his feud with Verne Gagne in the American Wrestling Association.[1] Another of Graham's opponents during this time frame was Ric Drasin, a bodybuilder and wrestler who was one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's weight training partners.[5] [6]

World Wide Wrestling Federation (1975–1978)

Graham debuted in the World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1975, with The Grand Wizard as his manager.[1] After a few stints for the promotion between 1975 and 1976, Graham defeated Bruno Sammartino for the World Heavyweight Championship on April 30, 1977, in Baltimore, Maryland.[1] The title win set a precedent, as previous villains who had won the WWWF Title would almost immediately lose it, serving as a conduit (or "transitional champion") between fan favorite reigns. Graham would go on to hold the title for nine and a half months; to this day, Graham's 296 day reign is the longest single world title reign of any villian in WWE history, with Yokozuna's second championship run in second-place at 280 days during 1993 and 1994 (although Randy Savage held the title longer, for 371 days, he didn't become a villian until almost the end of his title run).[2]

WWWF Champion

During his reign, he wrestled across America and even in Japan, facing well-known challengers such as former champion Bruno Sammartino, Jack Brisco, Dusty Rhodes, Pedro Morales, Don Muraco, Mil Mascaras and Riki Chōshū.[1] One of Graham's most famous matches took place in 1977 in Miami, Florida at the famed Orange Bowl football stadium against then-NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race in a WWF Championship vs. NWA World Heavyweight Championship unification match which ended in a bloody one hour time-limit draw.[1] He eventually lost the title to Bob Backlund on February 20, 1978.[1] Graham competed in the 1980 world's strongest man competition and finished seventh despite being injured in one of the events.[1]

Graham suggested to Vincent K. McMahon that Ivan Koloff should turn on him, thus starting a feud that would make Graham a fan favorite. McMahon refused because of a handshake deal to make Bob Backlund the new fan favorite champion. He did not want to go back on his word. It was also unheard of for a character like Graham to be a fan favorite, because McMahon and many old promoters saw Graham as a villian. Fans were making Graham a popular figure on their own — even Roberta Morgan's 1979 kayfabe book Main Event had to admit that, "Although he is a rule bender, [Graham] has managed to stay very popular with the fans, probably because of his skill, strength, and colorful personality" — but the era of explicit and intentional "cool villians" did not come until the 1990s with the likes of the New World Order (nWo), D-Generation X, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Rock.

After losing the title, Graham would begin a renowned feud with Dusty Rhodes, which culminated in a Texas Bullrope match.[1] Graham left the promotion soon after the match.[1] As a headliner in Madison Square Garden, which was the WWWF's primary arena throughout his heyday, Graham sold out 19 of 20 shows.[2] Though other wrestlers such as Sammartino and Backlund had more career sellouts at Madison Square Garden, Graham's 95% percentage is easily the highest in company history.[2]

World Wrestling Federation (1982–1983)

Graham returned to the now renamed World Wrestling Federation in 1982. Upon returning to the promotion, Graham debuted an entirely new look, sporting a bald head and mustache.

He soon challenged Backlund for the WWF Championship, but was unable to win the title. In response, he destroyed Backlund's championship belt by literally tearing it half.[1] He left the promotion soon after.[1]

National Wrestling Alliance (1983–1986)

After his run in Championship Wrestling from Florida, first as a member of Kevin Sullivan's Army of Darkness and later as the group's opponent, Graham spent some time in Jim Crockett Promotions, working for Paul Jones in his feud against Jimmy Valiant. It was during this time that the Graham returned to his tie-dyed look, growing a full goatee and dyeing the mustache blond. Hulk Hogan copied elements of this look, with his villainous "Hollywood Hogan" character in World Championship Wrestling in the 1990s (as did Scott Steiner with his "Big Poppa Pump" character around the same period). Graham also spent some time in the American Wrestling Association, working with Wahoo McDaniel and Ken Patera.

Return to the WWF (1986–1988)

Graham returned to the WWF one more time in 1986 as a fan favorite. After a few appearances, it was diagnosed that Graham required a hip replacement, the result of steroids deteriorating his body. The footage of Graham's hip replacement surgery was shown on WWF TV as a means to promote Graham's comeback. He returned in mid-1987 and feuded with Butch Reed for a few months, but the strain on his hip as well as his ankles also deteriorating proved to be too much. One Man Gang retired him from active competition permanently with a running splash on the concrete floor during a match against Reed. Don Muraco came to Graham's aid, and Graham subsequently became Muraco's manager. Graham was scheduled to wrestle in the main event in the first-ever Survivor Series, but Muraco took his place once Graham retired.

Graham had further medical complications in subsequent years, having to have his ankle fused in 1990 and a second hip replacement (on the same leg) in 1991.

Dispute with Vince McMahon

In 1992, at the height of Vince McMahon's steroid allegations, Graham went on The Phil Donahue Show and revealed to the world that he was an avid user of steroids, and went on a tirade against McMahon about it. This caused a rift between McMahon and Graham that lasted for over ten years before Graham was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. However, five years after being inducted, Graham was released from his consultancy position in World Wrestling Entertainment and reacted by selling his Hall of Fame ring on eBay after discovering McMahon had no intentions of building a physical building for the Hall.[7]

In the November 18, 2009 edition of the Hartford Courant, Graham discussed his intentions to ensure the defeat of former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, wife of Vince McMahon, in her bid for a seat as a U.S. Senator from Connecticut.[8]

Return to WWE (2004, 2005, 2006)

On March 14, 2004, Graham was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, the night before WrestleMania XX, by then-World Heavyweight Champion Triple H.[1] Several months later, Graham returned to WWE at a live event on December 28, where he was interviewed by Jonathan Coachman before knocking him out.[1]

On February 25, 2005, Graham appeared at another live event, and was again interviewed by Coachman before knocking him out.[1] Three days later, Graham appeared on Raw, where he encouraged Randy Orton to do something to make himself notable.[1] On October 3 at WWE Homecoming, Graham participated in a Legends Ceremony with 24 other WWE legends.[1]

On the January 23, 2006 episode of Raw, Graham made his final appearance with WWE, as he promoted his book and DVD.[1]

Retirement and legacy

After retiring in 1988, he returned to preaching. Graham is credited for changing how American professional wrestling is portrayed. World Wrestling Entertainment describes all of its competitors as "Superstars"; a direct tribute to Graham.[9]

Many wrestlers have claimed to have based their looks and styles on Billy Graham. Some famous examples are Austin Idol, Paul Ellering, Scott Steiner, Triple H, Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Jesse "The Body" Ventura.[1]

Due to his body being ravaged from years of steroid use, Graham now lectures high school athletes on the dangers of steroids. Graham's autobiography, Tangled Ropes, was released by WWE on January 10, 2006.[1] WWE also released a DVD about Graham's career, titled 20 Years Too Soon: The "Superstar" Billy Graham Story.[1]

Personal life

As stated in his autobiography Tangled Ropes, Graham and his wife Valerie were never able to have children due to his massive steroid abuse rendering him sterile. He does, however, have two children from a previous marriage: a son named Joey (born in 1975) and a daughter named Capella (born in 1972).

Graham received a liver transplant in 2002 from twenty six year-old donor Katie Gillroy, who died in a car crash, and said he would not be alive today without the transplant.[2] On March 12, 2004, only a day before being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Graham was hospitilized due to an intestinal ailment, in which his intestine was starting to protrude to the outside of his body.[1]

On November 18, 2005, Graham presided over the funeral service for wrestler Eddie Guerrero.[2]

Graham was again hospitalized, this time on May 24, 2006, due to a bowel obstruction from an earlier surgery.[1]

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am "OWOW profile".  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Cagematch profile".  
  3. ^ Chris Schramm. "Superstar Billy Graham: Ring legend". Retrieved 2006-12-05.  
  4. ^
  5. ^ Superstar Billy Graham Website. Record Book (1972). (Retrieved on March 29, 2007.)
  6. ^ The Arnold Fans Website. Jennings, Randy. (2003, October 21). Ric Drasin: Arnold's lifting partner! (Retrieved on March 29, 2007).
  7. ^ Aldren, Mike (2009-07-15). "You can shove your ring, Vince". The Sun. Retrieved 2009-07-16.  
  8. ^,0,2728609.story
  9. ^ "".  
  10. ^ "Finishing Moves List". Other Arena. Retrieved 2009-11-03.  
  11. ^ Matt Mackinder (January 17, 2008). "Sir Oliver Humperdink recalls career of yesteryear". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2008-04-04.  
  12. ^ Florida Heavyweight Title history At
  13. ^ Florida Tag Team Championship history At
  14. ^ NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (Florida version) history At
  15. ^ CWA World Heavyweight Championship history At
  16. ^ IWA World Heavyweight Championship history At
  17. ^ NWA Brass Knuckles Championship (Texas version) history At
  18. ^ NWA Hawaii Heavyweight Championship history At
  19. ^ NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version) history At
  20. ^ WWF/WWE Hall of Fame Inductees At
  21. ^ WWWF/WWF/WWE World Heavyweight Title history At

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

"Superstar" Billy Graham is the ring name of Eldridge Wayne Coleman (born June 7, 1943 in Paradise Valley, Arizona), an American professional wrestler who rose to fame in the World Wide Wrestling Federation in the 1970s.



Billy Graham, Tangled Ropes: Superstar Billy Graham (2006)

  • I lift barbell plates. I eat T-bone steaks. I'm sweeter than a German chocolate cake. How much more of me can you take?
  • I'm the reflection of perfection, the number one selection.
  • I'm the man of the hour, the man with the power, too sweet to be sour.
  • I am the women's pet, the men's regret. What you see is what you get. And what you don't see is better yet.
  • I float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. There's nobody as beautiful or as powerful as me!
  • I am the sensation of the nation. The number-one creation.
  • This is what the world waits for. The world out there asks, 'What's the Superstar going to wear next?' Not, 'Who's he going to whip next?' but what in the world is the Superstar going to wear. And I've got millions of letters saying, 'Superstar, would you please lay some yellow on me, daddy?'
  • Marilyn Monroe looks her best when she is sitting on the Superstar's chest.
    • On wearing a Marilyn Monroe t-shirt.
  • What you gonna do when the Superstar comes down on you?


  • I eat T-bone steaks, I lift barbell plates, I'm sweeter than a German chocolate cake. I'm the man of the hour, the man with the power, too sweet to be sour. I'm the reflection of perfection, the number one selection. The ladies' pet, the men's regret, where what you see is what you get, and what you don't see, is better yet.
  • I am the arm wrestling champion of the world!

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